So you need to lose weight. Don’t be offended by this statement, it’s just an example. But if this applies to you as it does to me at the time of writing this article, then this article may prove very helpful. If it does not apply to you, you can replace losing weight with any other behavioral change or any other goal you are having difficulty achieving. Examples of such include studying for an exam, organizing your wardrobe, writing an article, or even becoming more pennywise with your spending. One of the best tools to use is something called SMART Goals, developed for companies by George T. Doran. SMART is an acronym that is explained below and will help you learn how to achieve your goals.
S – Specific
As I mentioned, I want to lose weight. That’s specific right? Sorry, nope it isn’t! How much weight exactly? Because losing 1 kg is still losing weight. Also, which of the multiple ways of losing weight am I going to use? Exercise, fasting, juicing, practicing portion control, healthy eating, detoxing, liposuction, weight loss pills, etc? Do I have a time frame I’m thinking about? Until I have answered these questions, my goal remains merely a wish. So in order to turn my wish into an actual goal let me get more specific. Being specific will help you know exactly how to achieve your goals. I would like to lose 8 kilos by occasional mild detoxing, exercising, eating more fruits and vegetables, eating less carbs, and practicing portion control. I would like to lose this weight in 3 months.
M – Measurable
So now that I have my specific goal, how will I know if I’m making progress and when I have achieved it. Being able to measure your progress is very important. Fortunately, weight is easily measured on a scale. If I give my self a goal of about 0.9 kg each week, I can monitor my progress each week. I can also judge by how my clothes fit. Other goals however need you to create your own measurement instrument. For instance, A goal like “I would like to be more confident”, can be measured by measuring the number of times you don’t second-guess yourself, and a reduction in nervousness when speaking to people. Making your goal measurable is vital to achieving your goal effectively.
A – Attainable
Some goals are never reached not because a person didn’t try, but merely because they are not attainable. For example, I can say that I would like to be the head of the AU or the UN one day. This is a lofty goal but it is attainable. What is not attainable is having a goal to one day become the queen of England. I would be setting myself up for epic disappointment. Before you dismiss your goal as attainable, however, it’s important to do some research. Some things we never thought we would see happen were a black man becoming the President of the United States, or a woman becoming the President of Ethiopia. So some goals are very ambitious but attainable. Thankfully, based on my research results, losing 10kg in 3 months is attainable.
R – Realistic
This may seem similar to the point above but it differs slightly. Realistic means, given my current situation, plan, abilities, etc, can I achieve this goal? I may decide I want to become a lawyer. In order to do so, I need to attend law school, unless I’m Mike Ross (Suits). It is unrealistic though, to think I can become a lawyer by the end of the year. Without a law degree, this is such an unrealistic goal. Knowing how to achieve your goals requires you to be realistic about what you want. In the same regard losing 10 kg in 3 days, by exercise and diet only, is unrealistic. So my goal of 3 months is realistic.
T – Timely
By now, how to achieve your goals has become much clearer. Putting time markers on your goals is wise. This helps you know whether you are on the right track, if you need to vamp up your efforts or if you need to change your strategy. If by the end of the second month, I have lost only 2 kilos, I may want to adjust my strategy. Had I not given myself the 3-month marker, I would have the rest of my life to lose that weight, which means it probably would never get done. Time markers should also be realistic as mentioned above.
You can use these questions (https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm) to guide you on how to achieve your goals using SMART goals. This can be used to facilitate behavioral change as well. In fact, this is a smart way to operate in life… pun intended!